No longer just a printer

By Jenny Rex, Sales Director at Drive Control Corporation

For many years, the printer has been just that, a printer – a device for reproducing documents onto paper. Although there have been variations in the printing technology with inkjets, lasers, multifunction and specialised devices, innovations have been few and far between. All of this is however changing as the world becomes increasingly connected, and printing is beginning to break the traditional boundaries of the static device of the past.

The printer of today is no longer just a printer, but an intelligent, intuitive device allowing for printing anytime, anywhere as well as many other functions. Connectivity has enabled printers to offer so much more than the standard technology of the past, and has opened up a whole new world for this environment. Following the technological trend curve of mobile devices, where a multitude of functionality has been incorporated into single devices, printers now enable users to access documents using smartphones and other devices and print from the cloud, on demand, from anywhere in the world.

Mobile devices like smartphones and tablet PCs have also given rise to the evolution of the touch screen and the app, and the printer too has followed this trend. Full colour touch screen interfaces deliver a far more intuitive printing experience for today’s user, but the innovation of the printer goes much further than this. Touch screens now provide the portal to access a range of smart applications directly from the printer itself, from business and printing related apps such as day planners, and legal printing formatting to social media apps to keep users connected.

Lexmark is at the forefront of these printer innovations in South Africa, with its new Smart Solutions Centre offering access to a world of apps designed to enhance productivity and usability, as well as the ability to create customised 1-touch apps that simplify routine tasks, increase productivity, allow users to print web content directly from the touch screen and more. Solutions are currently available locally on the Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 and the Lexmark S815 Genesis multifunction devices, both of which feature bright, easy to use touch screens to deliver a customised, interactive printing experience through the Smart Solutions Centre.

For business and for pleasure, apps have become the way of the future on so many devices. The Smart Solutions Centre is the app world of the printer environment, allowing Lexmark users with compatible devices to download applications directly to the network-ready printer via LAN or wireless. This provides access to a feature-rich printing environment that offers so much more to enhance the user’s experience, allowing users to complete common tasks with one touch, access information and manage documents on the Web, and more.

Enhancing the functionality of printers has never been easier. There are many standard applications available to make the job easier, including scan to file, fax, PDF and email, print to file, duplex copy, black and white copy and eco copy to save on ink, as well as more specialised applications for business. From cloud printing to business card scanning, collaborative project management solutions, envelope wizards, form and template applications and even cloud storage for online document retention and sharing, there are hundreds of applications ready built to help enhance business productivity.

Users can also access Google Calendar and automatically print off a day planner every day for better scheduling, and print off the latest news headlines, stock prices or weather forecasts before they even walk into the office. For the more social user, Smart Solutions offers access to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. There are even fun apps such as Sudoku, which lets the user print off puzzles to complete directly from the printer, a variety of photo applications to let users upload, download and print photographs from a variety of tools such as Flickr, Photobucket and Picasa, and specialised applications designed to meet the needs of different industries, such as restaurants and healthcare providers.

One of the most useful speciality apps designed to help the busy modern business is a clever tool that monitors the level of ink in cartridges, notifying the user when ink is running low, and uses Google Maps to find the closest stockist along with directions as to the shortest route to the stockist.

Whether a user is looking for solutions to enhance efficiency, or to make the printer experience more interactive and intuitive, the world of apps delivers. With Lexmark’s innovative new Smart Solutions Centre, users need no longer think “if only my printer could do that”. By downloading one of the hundreds of existing applications, or by creating their own, these printers can do anything users need or want them to.
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No longer just a printer